Directed by: Adam Robitel
Based on Characters Created by: Leigh Whannell
Written by: Leigh Whannell
Produced by: Jason Blum, Oren Peli, James Wan
Starring: Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Kirk Acevedo, Caitlin Gerard, Spencer Locke, Josh Stewart, Tessa Ferrer, Aleque Reid, Ava Kolker, Pierce Pope, Bruce Davison, Javier Botet.
Set as a prequel to the original, Insidious: The Last Key begins with parapsychologist, Dr. Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) growing up in 1954, living in an abusive home: 413 Apple Tree Lane in Five Keys.
Elise has the gift, she was born with the gift. And her father hates her for it.
She lives with her brother, Christian (Pierce Pope) who’s understandably afraid of the dark, and is given a silver whistle to call his mother if he ever feels scared.
But when their mother dies, Elise finally leaves home at 16, leaving her little brother and the terrors of her childhood behind, including Key Face (Javier Botet), a demon who convinced her that setting it free would bring her more light. Key Face wants Elise to set them all free from The Further, because she’s the only one who can.
A phone call from Ted Garza (Kirk Acevedo), the current inhabitant of her childhood house, brings her back to all those bad memories. Haunted, Ted asks for help. And reluctantly, Elise returns with her new family, Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson): The Spectral Sightings crew.
There’s a different feel to this fourth instalment, with new director, Adam Robitel bringing a more human drama to this otherwise suspenseful, supernatural franchise.
There’s less reliance on the soundtrack, the suspense built on silence broken by footsteps on floorboards and the squeaking turn and fixing of a light bulb. It’s a slow burn that builds into a surprisingly sinister tale.
But I had trouble with holes in the script – OK, maybe not holes. Everything was there, but there wasn’t enough weight given to the why and backstory of Key Face. I don’t want to give too much away, but the death of Elise’s mother felt superficial to me, not supernatural.
And her death is an important part of the film as the story relies on this essential part of the fable and the power of Key Face.
The object of the whistle gives the supernatural a touch-stone of reality. And restraint makes the ghosts from The Further all the more believable.
So, there’s thought about the detail here which makes the glossing over the essential annoying.
Lin Shaye as Dr. Elise Rainier continues to bring authenticity to the difficult role of a parapsychologist who can commune and see ghosts. And the humour of Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson as Specs and Tucker works in this instalment; the humour given more time to work unlike the over-editing in Chapter 3 (where Leigh Whannell was also the writer), which rendered the jokes mis-timed and inconsequential.
As producer Blum says of writer Leigh Whannell: “There is a real relationship that has evolved between the audience and the characters in the movie. Leigh understands that what makes a good scary movie is not the scares, but what comes in between them.”
And seeing Spectural Sightings together in their van, AKA, The Winnebaghost, with Tucker sporting an impressive mullet, was a definite highlight.
Insidious: The Last Key manages to create a unique tone and story to the previous instalments. A more adult and suspenseful drama with some good humour to break the tension with a few scares that could have been so much stronger with better understanding of the Key Man and his power.